For all of the issues that the St. Louis Cardinals have had in their starting rotation, Jordan Montgomery has not been anything resembling a problem. In 18 starts this season, Montgomery has posted a 3.23 ERA and 2.3 fWAR thanks to his strong ability to limit hard contact and throw strikes.
Montgomery may be the perfect rental starter trade candidate at the trade deadline. Not only has he been very productive this season and is a pending free agent, but he is only making $10 million this season which makes him far more sensible than guys like Scherzer or Verlander who are owed big time money on their short-term deals.
Montgomery may be the guy that is the key to how the Cardinals do at the deadline. His elite walk rate is going to be highly attractive to contending teams that just need an arm that will keep them in games each night. St. Louis will be right to ask for a decent return for him as a result even though he is a rental.
Cardinals' flamethrower Jordan Hicks is another reliever that is about to hit free agency and who has a lot of traits that contending teams want. Unlike Stratton, Hick's obvious calling card is his fastball which has averaged 100+ mph in 2023, but his sweeper has arguably been his best pitch this year as opposing batters are hitting just .107 against it.
The issue here is Hicks' command of the strike zone. In Hicks' five seasons in the big leagues, he has walked less than 5.14 BB/9 in just one season which is....a lot of walks. Hicks also did have an elbow issue back in 2021 that could be spooky for teams that may be wary that guy that throws as hard as Hicks could break down on them down the stretch.
In the end, those are minor quibbles and Hicks will be in high demand at the deadline. Despite the walk issues, Hicks' upside with his 100% percentile fastball velocity is too much to ignore especially given that he shouldn't cost an arm and a leg as a rental.